Skip to Main Content
If you detect a strand of dark humor running through conversations around the Forensic Anthropological Research Facility, you probably have Bill Bass to thank for that. Now retired from everyday teaching, Dr. Bass is still deeply involved in the facility that he began in 1972, keeps an eye on the dual skeletal collections that bear his name, and looks over the now legendary "Body Farm," a three-acre wooded plot scattered with donated cadavers at various stages of decomposition.
Featured in films and television shows, and well-known as the title of a Patricia Cornwell mystery novel, the Body Farm serves as a real function in teaching crime solvers of the future, be they UT students or FBI agents, how to discover as much as possible from what may only be a little piece (no pun intended) of evidence.
The national reputation of UT's forensic center never would have been achieved without the tireless and enthusiastic participation of Bill Bass. An avid lecturer, writer, and consultant, Dr. Bass also serves as Tennessee's state forensic anthropologist and has been known to take calls from the producers of your favorite police procedural dramas, even if he has to tell them that they've got it wrong.
This is hardly glamorous work, as UT forensic anthropologist are apt to remind you. It's tough and clinical, requiring years of study, a significant amount of professional distance, and oh yes, did they mention the smell? "The Good new," writes one instructor, "is that most serious students in Forensic Anthropology are able to overcome that obstacle."